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Written by Kimberlie Williams
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Customer surveys allow your software company to quickly gather large amounts of information about your customers and use it to create focus in your company' approach to growth. A well-done survey can provide an open guide on how your company can build on its strengths to attract more customers while minimizing weaknesses that may lead to losing your customers. Customer surveys create a deeper understanding of what your customer needs and wants are, allowing your team to strategize its software and business practices to appeal more to your customers' tastes. 

Now let's take a look at the key factors that create an effective customer survey.

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Brainstorm Your Survey Questions From One Specific End-Goal

What do you hope to achieve through this survey? There has to be a goal in mind, not only to develop the questions in the first place, but to help ensure your survey questions are clear, concise and easy to follow for your customers so that their answers are given the framework to mirror this.

Many software companies use customer surveys to gain information in a variety of different ways, which include: growing their customer base (which can be done by looking at demographics and other information), identifying areas of improvement (like customer support), identifying opportunities for growth (like new technology trends), and asking customer opinions on future plans (like a new software launch). 


Ask Open-Ended Questions

When asking your customers for their opinions about your software, it has to be open-ended questioning that allows for more detail than a simple yes or no answer. Yes and no answers are no more useful than your typical star ratings. An answer like this will tell you whether your customers are liking what you’re doing as a software company or not, but it won’t tell you why they feel that way, which is the valuable information you need to move forward.  This can provide further information on what the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities in your business could be. 

For example, maybe you've asked your customers what they think about a specific software feature your team just rolled out. Your company already knows that most customers haven't used it, and in the survey, there is a trend in the answers that reveal most customers were unaware of its existence. The issue here could be promotions are not reaching the customers. Software can tell you that people aren't using features, but it doesn't always tell you why.


Don’t Assume

When framing your questions, be sure to look them over to see that they don’t assume your customer knows everything about your software or industry. If you want to receive answers from your entire customer base, the survey needs to be as accessible to everyone as possible. Avoid heavy use of software or industry-specific terms or explain them when necessary. Tech experts naturally use technological jargon amongst each other so often that they may forget how to convey the question in way that all their customers can understand.


Keep it Short or Break it Up

Most customers do not have the time or patience to sit around and do a 50 question survey, let alone an all-encompassing 200 question survey in one sitting. This is why it’s best to keep your surveys short with less than 15 questions. If you want to do a longer survey, break up your questions into a series of parts grouped by these shorter number or questions. Releasing these parts, for example, once a week, will make your longer survey much more easily digestible to your customers and increase your response rate more than if you tried to encourage them to take the massive longer version.


Don’t Ask Leading Questions

Leading questions steer customers into answering a question a specific way, when the goal of customer surveys is to get their honest opinion. Say your team is thinking of raising prices. Don’t ask a question like, “We’re considering raising our subscription fees, how do you feel about that?” Instead ask, “How do you feel about our subscription fees?” You’ll receive all kinds of honest answers. Some who are fine with it as is, some who wish it was lower, some who think it’s a great deal for your software, and some who are so in love with your software or your company that they’d be willing to pay more. The key is to determine which customers would honestly consider this a change worthy of severing ties with your company versus customers who would just prefer to pay less.


Offer Rewards

Surveys can sometimes feel like an interrogation, but a nice reward can make them feel like a necessary duty to get to the grand prize. Perhaps your team could start an exclusive reward program for your most loyal and excitable customers, where in exchange for their consistent weekly survey answers, they’re given first looks at new features, upcoming software,  special tips and more detailed user guides. This way your team will also receive double the feedback. You’ll team will be receiving customer survey responses as well as real customer feedback on your special offer previews, which will catch more issues and potential pitfalls before the official release.


Promote Your Survey

Once you’ve created your customer survey, promote it on all you points of contact between you and you customers. This includes everything from social media to emails to text messages to in-person conversation. Also be sure to target your intended audience when marketing your customer survey. For example, there’s no point in including a customer in a new software promotional survey when this customer has no intention of purchasing it in the first place.


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Customer surveys help encourage honesty and respect between businesses an their customers.  This is even more true when customers are informed their changes being incorporated into your business model. Giving your customers updates of how they've helped improve your software and your company in general will make them feel that their words really matter and encourage more to participate. Take these thing into consideration when creating your customer surveys to build better software and become a company that resonates more deeply with your customers, inspiring more trust and loyalty.